Review of Joe Swanberg’s latest indie film that takes a more conventional approach to storytelling
By Carter Bagley
Joe Swanberg has been an indie-darling the past few years, specializing in quirky, character-driven independent films including “Drinking Buddies” and “Digging For Fire”. He’s a filmmaker who’s films I haven’t fallen in love with unlike other indie filmmakers but he’s very consistent in his style. He’s managed to stay true to his style even when his budget has increased. A unique partnership has been forged with his last few films between Swanberg and actor Jake Johnson and it’s at play again here in “Win It All”. Jake Johnson is an intriguing presence in all of his performances and a very underrated actor. In this film he plays Eddie who is a 30-something, down on his luck, slacker who is addicted to the thrill of gambling. His brother, Ron (Joe Lo Truglio), is a family man who is the owner of their father’s old landscaping business and desperately wants Eddie to join the business with him. An opportunity for Eddie arises when a troubled friend of his asks him to hold on to (and not open) a duffel bag for him while he’s in prison and in return he will give Eddie a large sum of money. He accepts obviously, but his curiosity gets in the way of course and he ends up opening the bag only to find even more money than he was promised. Despite being urged to resist by his addiction program sponsor, played hilariously by Keegan Michael-Key, Eddie decides to gamble some of the money to make more. Things go awry when he ends up in a lot of debt and after meeting a charming, beautiful single mother who he begins seeing, Eddie decides to get his life together and get the money back. Jake Johnson gives a charismatic, understated and comedic performance and proves again that he can be a good, atypical leading man. Aislinn Derbez is good as a struggling, hardworking single mother and nurse who (along with Joe Lo Truglio) gives Eddie an emotional center. Swanberg wrote and directed the film in a more conventional way than his other films while still containing his noticeable style and quirks. The story may have been told many times before, and it may be a little too happy at some points but nonetheless “Win It All” is an entirely enjoyable film that is better than most of the films playing in theaters. “Win It All” is only streaming on Netflix and it really deserves your attention, check it out.